Moody with the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band at Blue Note — June 13, 2009 — Photo: Dièry Prudent ©
“Moody’s Mood for Love: the Story of a Song”
A NEW jazz documentary film in pre-production
by Dièry Prudent and Eric Marciano
This is a documentary film about the power of one song to transform lives.
“Moody’s Mood for Love” is a musical touchstone and perhaps the unlikeliest pop hit of all time, inspiring singers, stars, and stories around the world for several generations. The film focuses on the song as a celebration of jazz, love, exuberance, and on James Moody as a one-of-a-kind ambassador of those things.
The Song is the Story
Much as Jean Bach’s film, “A Great Day in Harlem”, took its theme from an historic photo, our core subject is this special song. The song’s origin is one facet of the story and the other is its creator’s history, which is a tale of serial triumphs over adversity, poverty, racism, disability, personal tragedy, and alcoholism, to name a few.
Celebrities, artists, and regular folk from around the world share their own tales about how the song and its creator inspired and influenced them. Like a musical StoryCorps, the song magically grabs ears and hearts to draw great stories from movie stars, presidents, commoners, and kings: stories which our filmmakers have collected over the past 15 years.
Poignant, funny, sad, and uplifting, these tales tap deeply into our shared humanity. Crossing cultural, generational, and geographic boundaries they reveal the bonds between people and emphasize the value of listening.
They remind us that everyone has a story and that every life matters.
Punctuating these anecdotes, the mostly-Moody soundtrack, highlighting his under-appreciated recordings, is sure to thrill music fans and inspire future generations of lovers, listeners and players.
“Our goal is to pay tribute to a great artist, and that through this film, future generations will discover, enjoy, and find inspiration in the sights, sounds, and themes of “Moody’s Mood for Love: the Story of a Song”.” – Diery Prudent
In 1949, Dizzy Gillespie protegé James Moody was a a 24-year-old, hard of hearing, expatriate African-American jazz musician living in Paris. In the last moments of a recording session – in Stockholm with a group of Swedish musicians on a borrowed alto sax — he played a spontaneous solo over the chord changes of the American standard, “I’m in the Mood for Love.”
That tune grew to become one of the best known and loved solos of all time, influencing Jazz, Pop, Soul, R&B and Hip-Hop artists and delighting audiences worldwide for several generations.
Moody’s solo – a convergence of musical genius and serendipity — caught the ear of amateur crooner Eddie Jefferson, who penned lyrics to Moody’s riffs, creating a dynamic, new jazz singing style known as vocalese. Think Jon Hendricks, Annie Ross, Al Jarreau, Mark Murphy, Kurt Elling or the Manhattan Transfer.
“Moody’s Mood for Love,” has since been recorded by a “Who’s Who” of music greats, including: Eddie Jefferson, King Pleasure, Quincy Jones, George Benson, Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison, Tito Puente, Georgie Fame, Chuck Brown, Queen Latifah and Amy Winehouse, to name a few.
It has maintained international appeal and relevance for 60 years, has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001, and recently has found its way into current online discussions about analog remixing.
We’ve been combing the archives, shooting Moody performances, events and interviews since 1994. Over the years, our search has led us down some very interesting rabbit-holes.
With the recent loss of Moody still fresh in our minds, the filmmakers want to complete our tribute in as short a time as possible. Moody approved of and cooperated with our production. We were granted access to concerts, recording sessions, and practice sessions at his home. Moody and his wife, Linda, granted us the documentary rights to the story shortly before he died.
Audience Appeal & Demographics
There’s a lot of entertainment as well as educational value in this material.
Our core audience will most likely be baby-boomers and modern 20- and 30-something hipsters who love a great story and great music. Jazz lovers who’ve yet to discover Moody and music fans seeking the richness, depth and romance of this music will be seduced and delighted by this film.
Also, by emphasizing the song’s links to other genres and contemporary artists, we’re targeting younger people who may not yet understand how deeply jazz has influenced the music they love at home and abroad.
Our markets include the film festival circuit, art-house theatrical release, jazz festivals, television, international TV distribution, DVD sales, the educational market and libraries worldwide. We will also promote digital downloads to computers and hand-held devices.
The film will be complemented by a website with links to relevant information about the song, the stars who’ve performed it, jazz history, music education and other related topics.
So far, we’ve filmed dozens of jazz stars and notable persons including, Jimmy Heath, Paquito D’Rivera, Amiri Baraka, T.S. Monk, Chuck Mangione, Russell Malone, Phoebe Jacobs, Phil Schaap, Ed Bradley, “Sweets” Edison, Roy Hargrove, Roberta Gamborini and many others.
Final production will require interviews with key celebrities and musicians; music, photo and footage clearances; sound-mixing and post-production. We are currently fundraising and “friendraising” towards these goals.
Among those on our interview wish-list: Quincy Jones, Bill Cosby, Clint Eastwood, Aretha Franklin, Patti Labelle, Queen Latifah, Tony Bennett, Oprah, Amy Winehouse, Jon Hendricks, Annie Ross, Nas, Nancy Wilson, Paul Shaffer, Bill Clinton, Hugh Hefner, Brian McKnight, Patti Austin, Take Six, George Benson, Rudy van Gelder, Hal Jackson, Bob Porter, and more.
Moody at Nordstrom Recital Hall with friend Bill Cosby, 2008, photo by Daniel Sheehan
Our goal is to pay tribute to a great artist. Our hope is that, through this film, future generations will discover, enjoy and find inspiration in the sights, sounds and themes of “Moody’s Mood for Love: the Story of a Song.“
You can learn more about James Moody from the links posted in the right-hand column of this blog.
To find out how you can help, please leave a comment below.
Thank you for your interest.